In an article at Melcrum, Andy Szpekman, president of AHS Communications, writes on guiding principles on merger communications.
According to Szpekman, the following 10 principles are important in communicating major changes in an organization in order to assist employees in managing the transition, open up lines of communication and put executives in position to support the change.
1. Do not rely on formal corporate communication, which has very limited influence. Focus, instead, on two-way face-to-face communication, such as focus groups and meetings, doing more listening than talking.
2. A good crisis communicator differentiates between facts and reassurance, telling people what is known, what is not known, and what is being done, including no speculations.
3. Do not put spin on the message lest you be perceived as dishonest or out of touch.
4. Disclose the whole truth immediately even if it’s bad news. Letting it trickle out creates distrust and anxiety.
5. Make your corporate communication messages clear, direct, concise, simple and easy to understand. Tell people what changes are happening, what they will have to do differently, and what all these means for them.
6. To reduce uncertainty and to make employees feel that they are informed participants in the change that is taking place in the organization, explain to them what is still being decided, what the issues involved are, where things may be headed, and the timetable for decision-making, with the caveat that final outcomes may still vary.
7. Do not tell people how they should think or feel about the changes. Give them the facts and let them reach a conclusion by themselves.
8. Senior leaders should be encouraged to circulate among employees to gauge their attitudes and deliver important messages.
9. To motivate high-performing people you want to keep in the company, reassure them of their value and warmly welcome them to the restructured organization.
10. Monitor how the change is going by measuring performance outcomes and listening to employee reactions. Create a rapid-response plan to address important issues immediately.
Change is never easy but, hopefully, these tips will help in the transition.